The Federal Government has explained reasons for the delay of the Ogoni clean-up exercise, saying it is puttong in place measures to build a solid foundation for the project.
Hajiyah Mohammed, who stated this at the 10th Anniversary of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), in Abuja, said “Talking about the Ogoni spill, those resources have been made available, the money has been released, but if you don’t have structure the money will go into the ground and the people won’t get them.
“It is important for us to put together structure and make sure that we have a solid foundation; who is in the office, who is the budget manager? How are they recruiting? All of these were not taking care of in the past. Now, we are hanging up to huge debt for people we don’t know what they did and for no result, but this time, we believe that by the time we live, people will see result.
“It will be a continuing process and in the next few months people will be seeing some of the issues that they thought they have not seen.”
The minister maintained that it was important for militants to stop further oil spillage by ceasing bombing of oil facilities to assist the exercise.
She said that illegal activities in the oil rich region must be stopped for the people of the region to have clean environment and improve their livelihood, adding that the government would not fail in its own responsibility.
“In Nigeria, there is a growing level of oil spill incidents caused majorly by the activities of illegal bunkering, artisanal refining, oil theft and armed militancy.
“These activities occur mostly in facilities located on land and swamp areas. However, some incidents do occur offshore, and with the increased interest of operators to pursue exploration and production in the deep offshore, there is the need to step up the level of preparedness to effectively respond to the challenges that may be presented by oil spills in the marine environment.
“The devastating impacts of oil spills on the environment, health and livelihoods of our rural and urban communities have led to land degradation, loss of life, destruction of habitats, loss of biodiversity, incidence of diseases, poor sanitation as well as the depletion of national revenue base.
“The need to prevent and rapidly respond to oil spill incidents whenever they occur can therefore not be overemphasized.
“To this end, the Federal Government is committed to dialogue with State Governments, opinion and youth leaders in the Niger Delta region to find a lasting solution to these incessant attacks which deplete our national revenue base and degrade the environment.”
In his remarks, the Director General of NOSDRA, Sir Peter Idabor said they had successfully upgraded their laboratory in Port-Harcourt for sample analysis in an attempt to compliment the clean-up exercise of the Ogoniland.
He said the agency since its 10 years of its existence had been “intensely occupied with enforcing compliance with environment legislation in the Nigerian petroleum sector.”
However, Idabor added that their efforts could not yield the desire result due to weak laws, calling on the National Assembly to strengthening the law that sets the agency up.
He noted that the act establishing the agency must be strengthening to criminalize non-compliance with the provision of its act.
According to him, the NOSDRA Act needs to “agree and stipulate when the government can take over an impacted site for clean-up and remediation as well as the recovery mechanism for resources (both human and equipment) used from the erring company.”
He stressed the need to create an oil spill management fund in line with international standards to address problem of funding.
Recall that in June, Vice-President, Yemi Osinbanjo, launched the “Clean-Up of Ogoniland’’ at Bodo, Gokana Local Government of Rivers state, but since the flag-off of the project, it had been experiencing hiccup due to insincerity of stakeholders.
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